Instant Bolivia

Bolivia Travel and Tourism Directory
for International Visitors

Author : David P. Dolson, Ed.D.

Permission for Website publication granted to

Photo Daniela Delgado. Cochabamba.

Welcome to Bolivia

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Preparation for Your Trip

Shopping and Entertainment

Travel and Tourism Services
Health Care and Safety

Bolivia is truly a fascinating place to visit. With its spectacular scenery, varied climatic zones, plethora of flora and fauna, diversity of peoples, and interesting history, this country that stretches from the Andes to the Amazon, provides many opportunities for the business, student, or vacation traveler. Ten of the more compelling reasons to visit Bolivia include:

1. Uniqueness: Como Bolivia no hay dos is the Bolivian way of saying in Spanish that there is no other place in the world quite like Bolivia.

2. Geography and Climate: Although located near the equator, because of acute variations in altitude, every climate from alpine to subtropical exists in Bolivia. Snowcapped peaks pierce the clouds and reach more than 20,000 feet while Bolivia's portion of the steamy Amazon basin is barely above sea level. In some places the Andes are so steep, travelers are able to cross several climatic zones within an hour or so.

3. Indigenous Nation: Unlike the United States and some other countries in the Americas, Bolivia's indigenous people have not only survived but constitute the vast majority of the population. More than 80 percent of Bolivians are of indigenous heritage. El Alto de La Paz is the fastest growing city in Latin America and the largest Indian city in the world.

4. Diversity: Among Bolivia's indigenous people there are the major groups such as the Quechua (descendents of the Incas), Aymara, and Guaraní as well as many smaller bands such as the Uru-Chipaya, Chiquitanos, and Mojos. In addition, Bolivia is a land of immigrants with significant populations of Spanish and other Europeans including Germans and Eastern European Jews. There are Mennonites, Lebanese, and Japanese immigrants as well as newcomer Koreans.

5. History: Bolivia's pre-Columbian history predates the establishment of the Tiahuanaco civilization, founded around in the first century BC on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Later of course came the Incas and then the Spanish. After more than 300 years of colonial rule, in 1825 Bolivians gained their independence and subsequently pursued a slow and sometimes tortuous journey towards democracy. Along the way, each generation of Bolivians has left evidence of its presence. These vestiges of history provide wonderful opportunities for visits and further exploration.

6. Authentic and Unspoiled: Yes, things do eventually change in Bolivia but more than any other country in the Americas, visitors are still able to see virtually untouched forests, high plains, rivers, lakes, marshlands, mountain valleys, and towering peaks in a country larger than Texas and California combined. In addition, the majority of Bolivia's indigenous peoples, and even immigrants, continue to speak their native languages and practice their heritage cultures even though many are able communicate also in Spanish and participate in mainstream Bolivian society.

7. Culture: Everywhere you go in Bolivia the native music, arts, and handicrafts are in view. Andean music is especially unique and interesting. Traditional song, and dance are performed nightly in folkloric venues called peñas and are prevalent during the many festivals celebrated in urban barrios as well as in rural villages.

8. Affordable: Travel in Bolivia for the most part is a real bargain. Although airline fairs to Bolivia can be a bit steep, once you arrive, you will be treated to world-class services at inexpensive rates. Hotel and restaurant costs are more than reasonable yet service and quality tend to be superior. In fact, travel-associated expenses will run about half to a third of what you are likely to pay in Europe or the United States. Even when compared to its Latin American neighbors such as Argentina, Brazil, or Chile, travel in Bolivia is significantly less expensive.

9. Adventure: The highest ski lift, golf course, and swimming pool in the world are all found in and around La Paz. Trekking in Bolivia is exceptional. Chose between ancient Inca trails or newly scouted Andean paths. More adventurous mountain climbers can test their abilities on some of the Andes' most challenging peaks such as Sajama, Illampu or Illimani. There are safaris and hunting trips in the Amazon basin by boat or four-wheel drive vehicles. Mountain biking and climbing are very popular. Participate in eco-tourism with a visit to one of Bolivia's national parks such as Madidi, Noel Kempf, or Amboró. You can traverse the altiplano and the Andes by train or bus to Peru, Brazil, Argentina, or Chile. Explore the great Salt Flats of Uyuni or visit the replicated indigenous villages at a cultural complex on Lake Titicaca where you can experience first-hand the traditional Aymara and Kallawaya cultures and then cross the Lake to Peru on a boat or catamaran and continue on to Cuzco and Machu Pichu if you like.

10. Third World But Safe: Bolivia is, of course, a paradox. It is the most indigenous and poorest nation in South America. Wherever you go in the country, you cannot escape the signs of poverty and underdevelopment. Many of the very attractions that draw visitors to Bolivia in the first place (e.g., the virgin forest habitats and traditional indigenous culture) exist not only because of the country's isolation but also in part because Bolivia has failed to develop economically and politically. This can present a variety of challenges to travelers. Fortunately, in most cases, with a proper dose of preparation before traveling and a few precautionary measures during your visit, the time you spend in Bolivia will be safe, healthy, and enjoyable. In fact, the data clearly suggest that you are more likely to be a victim of untoward circumstances in Los Angeles, New York, or London than in La Paz, Cochabamba, or even Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Bolivia Today, via our country guide, INSTANT BOLIVIA provide international visitors with the travel information and recommendations they need for a successful, safe, and affordable journey to Bolivia. Our publications contain the most accurate, current, detailed, and independent travel intelligence available.

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